Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present

In my last post I wrote about a hyper-real 3D artist, Richard Kolker and how he was influenced by Juan Sanchez Cotan’s “Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber”. Another artist influenced by this particular painting is Ori Gersht, who created a HD film piece where a bullet soars through a pomegranate (instead of the quince) creating a visually exciting explosion of seeds and juice, celebrating the fruit’s colour and beauty. His work, along with paintings by Henri Fantin-Latour are currently featured in the Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present exhibition at the National Gallery (open until 20th January).

I visited the exhibition last month and thought it was excellent because it explores how photographers use fine art traditions to influence their own work. Early photographs from the 1800’s and contemporary photographs sit next to historical paintings. Covering a number of traditional genres; portraiture, still life, nudes and landscape, I think the exhibition takes a really interesting look at how influential painting actually is to contemporary photography. My only disappointment was that there wasn’t enough! For the ‘Still Life’ section of the exhibition there were 15 paintings/photographs and a moving image piece by Sam Taylor Wood. Obviously I would have liked to have seen more from this genre! Also it would have been interesting to have seen some supporting text from the photographers stating which elements of the paintings they were stimulated by to see how the photographer was actually influenced by its adjacent painting. Understandably this might not have been possible with some of the older photographs.

Along with images from Ori Gersht and paintings by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, it was great to see such strong influence between imagery. In particular, the very visual link between George Lance’s ‘Fruit (The Autumn Gift) alongside Roger Fenton’s ‘Flowers and Fruit’.

Still Life with Lemons and Oranges’ by Luis Melendez, 1760’s


Oaxaca Jar with Aubergine (Still Life No. 2) by Evelyn Hofer, 1996










To see 18th century Spanish ‘Still Life with Lemons and Oranges’ by Luis Melendez, alongside Evelyn Hofer’s Oaxaca Jar with Aubergine was an excellent show of how elements of composition and lighting have been drawn on in contemporary photography.

I would definitely recommend visiting this exhibition while it’s still on –  the concept and the idea of it alone is inspiring and I think what you take away from the exhibition is knowing how influential fine art traditions can be.


Richard Kolker’s Digital Modelling Photography – Hyper Real Food

When looking at the history of food photography, sometimes it’s interesting to consider it’s future. Richard Kolker is a ‘synthetic photographer’ who records “virtual light interacting with virtual geometry using a virtual camera”.

Influenced by Juan Sanchez Cotan’s “Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber”, painted in 1602, Kolker uses various 3D modelling and rendering software packages such as Maxon Cinema 4D and Maxwell Render to create his images. Elements of the lighting and careful composition in Cotan’s painting are carried across to Kolker’s work. For him, his virtual camera is much the same as a physical camera, as is his work flow; he still builds a set, lights the scene then photographs it. Even though the images are created using a computer, the same controls and conventions, like aperture/depth of field and exposure are very much present. Photoshop is used, but only for colour correction and contrast rather than any drastic alterations.

“Around the Bodegon – after Juan Sanchez Cotan 1602”, 2012

Is this the future of food photography? With CGI becoming more popular, will this combination of 3D modelling and rendering eventually end up moving it’s way into food photography? It’s something to think about… You can read more about how Kolker creates his imagery in this article here